James Agalga handing over a passport to a Liberian refugee
The government of Ghana has granted nearly 4,000 former Liberian refugees permanent stay in Ghana, the Deputy Minister of Interior, James Agalga has announced.
In line with this, the former Liberian refugees will be able to take advantage of the numerous opportunities in the country for their personal development.
At the commemoration of the World Refugee Day organized by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), several Liberian refugees were granted passports with permit for legal residence in the country.
Mr. Agalga, speaking at the event, said everyone should use Refugee Day to ‘express appreciation and thanks to the citizens of Ghana for showing profound hospitality towards refugees.’
He also said that Ghanaians were clearly adhering to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which legally defines who refugees are, their rights, as well as legal obligations of the states involved.
‘Ghana is one of the only host countries in the world that has issued Convention Travel Documents to refugees who need to travel,’ he said.
He however urged the former refuges to reciprocate the goodwill by being law-abiding and focus on opportunities.
UNCHR Representative Ghana, Chansa Kapaya, commended Ghana for fulfilling her international obligation and being generous asylum country since the early 1990s.
‘We say thank you to the government and the people of Ghana for your hospitality for hosting asylum seekers and refugees within your communities,’ she said.
Worldwide, there are 16.7 million refugees, with 2.9 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, however, some of them are going home now, she said.
Ms. Kapaya noted that similar home-coming efforts were being made for refugees everywhere.
According to The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), last year, 414,600 refugees returned to their respective countries.
Currently, plans are in place to send Togolese refugees home by 2015.
Unfortunately, that still leaves millions of displaced people, including over 20,000 in Ghana.
Conflict in the Central African Republic and Mali, as well as unstable security in Nigeria has caused many more to flee their homes.
The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people has, for the first time since WWII, exceeded 50 million.
Susan Ngongi, UN Resident Coordinator, said many host countries have ‘shown generosity well above their means.’
She referred to Ghana as a ‘good example which lives up to international expectations to protect refugees.’
By Jamila A. Okertchiri & Sarah Jakubowski
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